Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Fevers impair brain activity

You probably already knew that fevers can cause some people to develop seizures. According to the National Institutes of Health, these so-called ‘febrile seizures’ can happen at temperatures of 102.2 degrees F and above and are most-often seen in children. The good news is that this type of seizure is usually short and does not often cause any long-term damage to the brain. In a new study published in Physiological Reports, […]

Continue Reading →

Polygamous deer mice have faster sperm

Deer mice are known for being quite promiscuous. In fact, it is not uncommon to find a litter of deer mice with multiple fathers. Dr. Hopi Hoekstra and colleagues at Harvard University’s Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology discovered that the tail of deer mice sperm have longer midsections than found in monogamous mice. What this means is that their sperm can swim better and faster, thereby reaching an egg sooner than sperm from other prospective fathers. […]

Continue Reading →

Amazing longevity of Greenland sharks

A multi-national team of scientists sought to determine the age of Greenland sharks (Somniosus microcephalus). These animals grow rather slowly (about 1cm per year) and are the largest fish in the arctic (>500 cm long), but their longevity was not yet known. The team used radiocarbon dating of crystalline proteins found within the nuclei of the eye lens. Because these proteins are formed prenatally, they offer a rather accurate way to […]

Continue Reading →

How to grow a bigger heart…

…in alligators at least. Researchers from the University of Manchester, University of North Texas – Denton, and the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge – Grand Chenier, Louisiana teamed up to explore the effects of exposure to low oxygen on embryonic American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis). Alligator eggs are often laid in nests where oxygen concentrations can reportedly vary between 11-20% (21% is normal atmospheric levels). This is really important as issues related to embryonic development could continue to affect animals throughout their adult lives […]

Continue Reading →

Genetically-modified virus stops Alzheimer’s disease

Check out this video from Reuters (via YouTube). It summarizes an exciting study from researchers at Imperial College London who were able to stop the progression of Alzheimer’s disease in mice by administering a modified virus to the animals. The virus worked by preventing the formation of the characteristic amyloid plaques that are responsible for causing damage to neurons in the brain. Importantly, the virus did not result in loss […]

Continue Reading →